Run commuting has been a hot topic as of late, so I decided to do a little research and give it a try! While it requires planning, running to work makes for an amazing start to the day: you fit your workout in AND you get to skip sitting in morning traffic. Running home from work is equally gratifying at the end of a long day and doesn't require nearly the resources running to work does. Here's what I learned from friends and first-hand on how to gear up for and plan a run commute.
Before you your first run commute, you're going to need some gear. If you're new to running, start with our comprehensive running in general, start with our comprehensive gear guide and read how to avoid blisters. You will need:
#1 Something to carry your stuff
#2 A waterproof phone case (if above something is not waterproof)
If you're running home from work, you really only need something that will fit your keys, ID, credit card, cash, public transport card, phone, and a gel or two depending on how long the run is. When I ran to and home from work this week, my trusty SPIbelt was great, but it would have been really nice to have space to fit in a few more items. Plus I had forgotten to bring a lock to work the day before (for the gym) and had to run with a nice, heavy padlock in my SPIbelt, and hand-carry my phone. Thankfully I ran in our Women's Momentum Running Short, and was able to stash my keys and a gel in the nice big zip pocket in the back and threw in a few hair ties and tissue (hello outdoor allergies) in the smaller front interior pocket. This brings me to item #2, which you probably already know if you carry your phone with you when you run, a water/sweatproof phone case. Here are our top backpack, belt, and phone case recommendations:
Orange Mud Endurance Pack,$134.95. One of our favorite running/hydration backpacks, this Orange Mud style is amazing because you can adjust it to fit nice and tight on guys and girls, which is exactly what you need for run commuting. Tight backpack = less chafing.
REI Flash 18 Pack, $39.95. At less than $40, this backpack gets the job done at an affordable price AND magically turns into a stuff sack when turned inside out.
- Nathan Intensity Hydration Vest, $100. This is a women's-specific fit hydration backpack. Take the bladder out for maximum space for your other stuff. Nathan also makes a men's version.
- SPIbelt with Waterproof Accessory, $29.99. This is a great option because it includes a LOKSAK, aka waterproof bag for your phone. You can literally put your phone under water in this bag and take pictures with it.
- Reflective SPIbelt, $28.99. Another great SPIbelt product, this one is super reflective, essential if you're run commuting early in the morning or after dark.
- Nathan Trail Mix 2 Hydration Belt, $44.99. I've trained for two marathons in this water belt. It fits well once adjusted and if you don't run past water fountains on your run commute route, then this belt is for you.
- Anything from Lifeproof! I am a huge fan of Lifeproof cases. The NUUD has kept my iPhone 5 dry and functional in torrential downpours that seem to happen every time I go for a long bike ride, errant overturned steins of beer in bars, and of course, while running and sweating all over it.
- Anything from Pelican! Friends of mine LOVE their Pelican phone cases. Most are military-grade and can be submerged in water up to 6.6 feet for half an hour, plus they have a slightly sleeker profile than Lifeproof's offerings.
- Plastic sandwich bag. A tried and true favorite, this is the most cost-effective way of keeping your phone dry on your run commute.
Now that you're all geared up to run, you need to plan out your route to or home from work. Give yourself at least 2 days to plan your route and prep everything you'll need at the office, because chances are you will forget something the first few times...
2+ Days Before
Plan out your route a few days before running to or home from work. You'll want to keep an eye out for important essentials like water fountains and public restrooms, the flow of traffic, any road construction that didn't show up on Google Maps, etc. I recommend doing a test run (pun intended) of your commuting route as your weekend long run. Hydration is super important during summer runs. No bathrooms? We've got hacks for you runners on the go. This way you'll have a much better idea how much time the route actually takes you to run (especially if you're like me and pause your watch at every stoplight), even if there's less traffic on a weekend morning than there will be when you're commuting. You'll want to try out your SPIbelt/hydration pack/running backpack of choice on this test run. You'll find out very quickly whether/where it chafes, if it needs to be tighter, how much you can carry in it etc. As you can see on my test run map on the left here, I ran all the way down NYC's West side highway through Hudson River Park, and added on the piers wherever I could to add some distance. It's a super convenient route to take because it's mostly free of cars, and there are plenty of public restrooms and water fountains along the way. Plus it's beautiful:
1+ Day Before
Take everything you're going to need at the office (clothes/underwear/shoes/towel/food) for the day you plan to run commute. Some people keep things like this at the office anyway; I always keep a pair of heels at the office in case of an impromptu meeting with management, and my desk drawers are filled with snacks. Still, on Wednesday, I brought a dress, makeup, deodorant, breakfast and lunch for Thursday. When I got home Wednesday night, I put out everything I had to take with me the next morning to avoid forgetting something important, like keys or my work ID.
Run Commute Day
Wake up a little earlier to give yourself extra time and ensure that you have everything you need to get home at the end of the day (or back to work the next day) eat what you normally eat pre-run and enjoy your coffee. Throw on your favorite running clothes, (our Women's Hydrogen Running Tank is my personal favorite), lace up your shoes, and run! I started my commute at my apartment in Brooklyn Heights and ran directly to the Brooklyn Bridge to save time (had to cut out my favorite Brooklyn Bridge Park run). Running over the Brooklyn Bridge is an amazing start to the day- you get great views of lower Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge - it's postcard (and Snapchat) perfect. Once over the bridge, I headed to the West side highway via Warren and ran all the way up through Hudson River Park to 40th. *Note: don't run down 40th, as I discovered there's a ton of construction there right now. I survived running through the construction and made it safely to the office, grabbed my tote bag of work clothes, and headed to the gym to shower. Door to door it took me exactly an hour. Since it takes me nearly 40 minutes to get to work on the subway anyway, an extra 20 minutes was nothing! I absolutely loved running along the water and being above ground for my entire commute for a change. It was an incredible start to the day and I can't wait to do it again.
My view from the top of Brooklyn Bridge:
Entering Hudson River Park:
Running along the water:
Fresh-faced and ready for work:
Have YOU tried run commuting? Do you have any tips for us? We want to hear from you!